Reaching for Your Dream

What is it about a dream–that something we would dearly love to accomplish … if only? I wrote this piece as I struggled toward my dream almost eleven years before Her Deadly Inheritance appeared in print and e-book.

Maybe you’ve felt this way–or feel this way now–as you reach for your dream.

The Frustration

I slumped at my desk and closed my eyes in an effort to trap the tears that threatened to escape. “I’m ready to give up, Lord! I’ve worked on this novel and worked on it some more. It’s just not getting anywhere.”

“I’m weary of the battle, Lord. I don’t think I’ll ever finish it.” Tears traced wet paths down my face.

Oh, great! I palmed them away. “Please, Lord, if you have an idea to share, I could sure use it now.”

Commit your work to the Lord, and then your plans will succeed.  ~ Proverbs 16:3 (TLB)

What? Surely God knew I had dedicated each piece of my writing dream to him from the very beginning. Obviously, I was missing something behind those twelve short words.

Something important.

Several hours later, I pushed aside my concordances, commentaries, and dictionaries and picked up what I had distilled from them. I stared at the pages.

So that was the problem.

Committing my work to the Lord involved more than offering a quick prayer before I barreled ahead with my plan. It was spreading everything before the Lord each morning — my manuscript, plans, deadline schedules — and most of all, myself. It was sharing my difficulties and delights with him, both writing and otherwise. It was praying, “Lord, here am I. Use me. What do you want me to accomplish today?”

I knelt down to do that very thing.

Before long I saw significant progress in the novel’s development. Excitement about the project returned! I couldn’t wait to get to my desk each morning and boot up my computer.

How glad I am to have learned this valuable lesson: Being a Christian writer isn’t a simple matter of being a Christian and writing. It’s being a Christian who lays her dream at the feet of the Lord and obeys him. As I look back, every one of my published manuscripts was a fruit of God’s plan, not mine. Painful as all the years of struggle have been, I am grateful that God continues to preserve that precious pattern.

Dear Reader, this piece has been a long time coming, and now you know why. Until next time . . . look to the Lord. He will help you overcome your frustrations!

Copyright 2005 Beth Ann Ziarnik

Are you reaching for your dream? May I encourage you to work at it and stick with it until it’s accomplished in the Lord’s timing? It truly will be worth it all.

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Remembering the Fourth of July

Happy Fourth of July, everyone! Won’t be long before the fireworks light up the night skies again, right?

With the heat and humidity, indoors seems the best place for me–maybe you too! But this morning I enthusiastically decked out the house–inside and out–with 4th of July decorations that I remembered using during the local book launch party for Her Deadly Inheritance. Perfect!

That led to recalling those two fun summers Jim and I went to Munising and Grand Island, Michigan to research the setting for Her Deadly Inheritance. What fun we had participating in the old-fashioned Fourth of July celebration, beginning with the morning parade in town and ending with the evening fireworks over Murray Bay. Just about everything we experienced found its way into the novel–pie eating contest, chainsaw wood carving, free ice cream, firemen’s water hose fight, sack races, and so much more.

Which led to remembering Jill and Clay (my novel’s heroine and hero) enjoying their Fourth of July in the novel with a touch of romance and a whole lot of suspense.

And finally remembering you wonderful readers, wishing you the very best celebration and wondering how you are celebrating this very special day.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

What is your favorite Fourth of July memory? Or most memorable Fourth of July? I’d love to hear about it.

 

It’s Official! Second Novel Scheduled for Release

You asked, so I’m happy to announce: It’s official. Her Deadly Reunion, the novel you’ve been waiting for, releases November 15.

And thank you so much for your words of encouragement. They kept me going as I worked long and hard on the sequel to Her Deadly Inheritance. Your words like:

  • I plan on watching for whatever Beth offers to us in the future!
  • An author whose works I will read promptly after release.
  • Looking forward to reading more from this talented author.
  • I’m hooked. Hurry up with that second book.
  • Hope these characters return in another book!
  • Hope another book by Beth is on the way.
  • Looking forward to the next book!
  • Can’t wait for her next book.
  • Can’t wait for the sequels!
  • Cannot wait for the next novel !!!!!!
  • When is your next novel coming out, Ms. Ziarnik? I want it!!!
  • Loved the book and wish there were more by Beth.
  • This debut novel knocked my socks off. I look forward to her next book.
  • Hope there will be another story with Jill and Clay. Theirs is an adventure I would love to follow.

To answer some of your comments: Yes, you will see two more books about Jill and Clay. While preparing for Her Deadly Reunion‘s launch, I’ll be writing Her Deadly Vows. In the meantime …

Where is Her Deadly Reunion in its preparations for release? The interior design elements (what the pages and type face look like) are in place.

The book cover design team at Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas have the novel’s back cover copy (story blurb), the new author photo, and a document of details they will consider as they work. By the end of summer, we should have a beautiful new cover for the second book.

I can’t wait to see it. And when I do, you will, too!

Until then …Thank you for accompanying me on this writer’s journey. You make it all worthwhile.

Announcing New Novel’s Release Date with Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving Day, everyone! What a great day to count the many blessings God showers on us. And you–family and friends who love and take time to show you care–are chief among them.

  • Today I’m thanking God for my son Bret who volunteered to make the Thanksgiving dinner and bring it and his family here to celebrate. He visits most weeks to help with the yard, have a meal with me, and play boards games as we catch up on each others news.
  • I’m also thanking God for my son Rick who does so much for me throughout the year. All I have to do is call and say, “We have a problem!” He’s quick to fix whatever needs attention and lend advice as his dad might have while he was still alive. He also takes care of our hunting land, and Tuesday he brought over some lovely venison from the deer he harvested last weekend–roast, tenderloins, and steaks.Oven roasted venison stew, here we come!
  • An especially big thank you both to you family, friends, fans, and the staff at Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas and to the Lord who graciously answered your faithful prayers as I wrote my second novel. Lighthouse accepted its latest version on November 14.

I can now officially announce: the sequel to Her Deadly Inheritance releases next year on December 1. A great choice because Jill and Clay meet her birth father and confront more romantic suspense adventures over the Christmas holidays.

Now that I’ve shared a few things I’m thankful for this year …
What are you thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day?

Missing in Action?

Missing in action? Yes, the last time you saw a post was the end of May, and I truly apologize. You are important to me.

But, sometimes life takes us by the hair and drags us wherever it wants. Have you ever felt that way? Well, that’s exactly what happened over the last two months while I was mysteriously ill. Finally, this past Sunday, whatever-it-was let go.

And I’m so glad to be back with you once again!

You all amaze me with your wonderful support. Within the past twenty-four hours, another five-star review of Her Deadly Inheritance appeared on Amazon: “Loved this book! The opening line to the last line keep you turning the page.”

What encouragement as I’m now physically able to work on the edits requested for the second novel by my editor at Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, Darla Crass. Once those edits are approved, LPC will set a release date for this novel. When that happens, I’ll be sure to answer your frequent question, “When is your next novel coming out?”

In the meantime, thank you so much for making Her Deadly inheritance a top-selling novel on Amazon since it came out last year, I’m so grateful to you and to the Lord.

Aspiring Writer: The Writing Contest

Talk about scary! Enter a writing contest along with so many excellent writers? Yet I was pretty sure this was the next step I was to take on my writing journey. So I prepared to person-frightenedenter …

The Writing Contest

I was clueless.

Only the Lord knew the wonderful surprise he had for me at the 2014 Write-to-Publish Conference.

Years of effort had taught me to do my best with each writing project and take the next step. That’s exactly what I did as I prepared for this conference, hoping I might qualify for the Written World Communications Contest.

The contest was open only to those who met all of the requirements:

  • attend the conference
  • make a one-on-one appointment with the publishing house representative
  • participate one of her evening critique sessions.

But none of that would make a difference if I didn’t first polish my novel.

Two weeks before Write-to-Publish, I set a deadline of ten days to complete that work. I divided the manuscript’s 310 pages and 28 chapters into roughly equal parts and set to work. Nine days later, I finished. For the first time, I believed my novel was not only good—as others had tried to tell me—but the best I could make it. No more niggling doubts.

With the manuscript for Her Deadly Inheritance copied onto a USB drive, I arrived at the conference. That first day whenI met with J. Christine Richards for my one-on-one appointment, she approved my entering the contest and received my USB drive to download my novel to her devise.

The third evening of the conference, I joined her critique group along with six other hopeful writers. When it was over, I left knowing I had done all I could. The outcome was now up to the Lord.

The next evening at the conference banquet, three other big awards were handed out before Chris went to the microphone. She talked about the chosen novel, and mentioned “Beth” and her belief that she might slaughter the author’s last name if she tried begonia-stunnedto pronounce it.

The room fell silent as I looked around expecting some other Beth to get up and receive the award. Then I realized Chris was looking at me. I mouthed, “Do you mean me?”

When she smiled and nodded, I froze in my chair. The dear writer next to me smiled, took my hand, and leaned over to whisper, “You have to go up and receive your award.”

Still stunned, I joined Chris. Then turning my back to the microphone, I whispered, “Are you sure?”

She grinned and nodded.

In that moment, God gifted me with a mentor and an editing coach, the two desires of my writer’s heart. The award also included the possibility of publication, once we completed the chapter-by-chapter editing.

God’s Word says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” ~ Psalm 34:7, New Living Translation.

***

Dear Reader, do you sometimes wonder if God cares about the longings of your writer’s heart? He does! Please know that at the right time and in the right way, he will give you the desires of your heart. Until then … delight yourself in him and keep moving forward as he leads.

~ Beth

Copyright 2014 Beth Ann Ziarnik

Aspiring Writer: Finding the Agent

Oh, if only we had a good agent. That would make all the difference! But what if after following all the advice and doing our best, it still doesn’t happen. Does that mean we’ll never get an agent? Not necessarily …

The Agent

Wow, Lord! Really? It felt like some incredible dream. I couldn’t have been more surprised.

My left wrist still recovering from being crushed, I stared at the cast that had replaced the external fixator in the steps toward healing since April. It was now Wednesday of the dreams-come-truelast week in June. Lord, what could a one-handed writer do?

Hmmm. I wiggled the index finger on my right hand. Ha! I knew people in the writing industry. Icould invite some of them to link with me on LinkedIn.

Before I knew it, I was chatting online with a well-known and respected agent I had met at several Christian writers’ conferences. At one point Joyce Hart wrote that she was bringing her son into her agency. She needed projects for him to look at and asked, “Do you have any you send me?”

I blinked. Is this you, Lord?

I sent her my list of eight projects, and she chose the romantic suspense novel which would one day be titled Her Deadly Inheritance. One-handed, I spent four days polishing its proposal before e-mailing it to her. Ten days later, Jim Hart sent a message. He loved the sample chapters and wanted to see the whole manuscript.

I blinked again. Was I dreaming?

During the previous eighteen months of submitting my novel’s proposal, two other agents had requested the full manuscript and then passed on it. They were kind enough to include encouraging words about the quality of my writing and my clear understanding of the romantic suspense genre. One even told me to keep my chin up, and I would find that agent who loved my novel.

I did my best to follow her advice but still failed to find that elusive agent who would believe in me and my writing. Someone who would want to partner with me and see my novels published.

Would this be yet another round of encouragement, letting me know I was close but not quite ready? Or …

Well, whatever the Lord had in mind, it wouldn’t hurt to keep moving ahead. Take that next step. I requested two weeks to go over the 80,000 word manuscript one last time—yes, with one hand—and then e-mailed it to him by our agreed-upon deadline.

How merciful the Lord was! He kept me busy with a family camping vacation followed immediately with an out-of-state family wedding. When I returned, a message from the agent waited in my in-box. As I read his most welcome words, my heart almost stopped. He loved my novel and offered representation.

I was in!

Hardly able to believe my eyes, I called in a lot of prayer from friends and family and tried to calm down. Then I sent the agent my phone number and said I would be glad to talk with him. That afternoon, he asked if he could send me a contract, and I told him I would be glad to look it over, but I had a lot of questions. He offered to call me the middle if the contract-signingnext week.

The next day as I prayed about this opportunity, I knew the Lord wanted me to sign that contract. A few days later when the agent called, I let him know I intended to sign the contract. I then ran my questions past him, knowing it’s not wise to sign a contract unless both parties fully understand the agreement. Then I signed the contract, dropped it in the mail, and officially became a client of the Hartline Literary Agency. I danced with joy!

God’s Word says, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9, King James Version). Without a doubt, the Lord had directed my steps, just as he does for each of us as we seek his will,and no matter what pathway he chooses for us.

* * *

Dear Reader, it may not feel like it now, but your day will come. Keep taking your next step as the Lord directs. The details of how you team with an agent may not be the same as mine, but one day the Lord with bring to pass your agent partnership.

God bless you on your journey.

~ Beth

Copyright 2013 Beth Ann Ziarnik